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The Council released its first report on October 24, 2012, providing an assessment of the 2008/09 recession, as well as an historical chronology of business cycle dates going back to 1926 (a background commentary that explains in greater details the methodology and the chronology can be found here).In its second report, the council determined that as of July 22, 2015, data did not provide evidence that Canada had entered an economic downturn.The Council defines a recession as a pronounced, pervasive and persistent decline in aggregate economic activity.In deciding on the occurrence and timing of a recession, the Council looks at three dimensions: duration, amplitude, and scope – or how widespread a downturn is. The Council meets when economic conditions indicate the possibility of entry to, or exit from, a recession. Howe Institute Business Cycle Council is an arbiter of business cycle dates in Canada.The Council also acts as a conduit for research aimed at developing a deeper understanding of how the economy evolves and to provide guidance to policymakers.The Council performs a similar function to the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) Business Cycle Dating Committee in the United States.
The Council does not impose preset conditions with respect to amplitude, duration, and scope, notably because these considerations need to be judged simultaneously and because the economy and its measurement change over time.The Council also adopted a classification system that allows grouping recessions according to their severity from Category 1, the mildest, to Category 5, the most severe.